Imagine you’re a knight in Game of Thrones — but your heavy helmet is made of honey bees. That’s how Don Shump describes the experience of wearing the ”‘Bee Beard,” an event that’s part of Philadelphia’s annual Honey Festival. A crowd of intrigued children gathered around Shump on Thursday evening at Glen Foerd, a Fairmount Park property along the Delaware River. Shump, a longtime Philadelphia beekeeper, tied the bees’ queen around his head and then waited for the roughly 15,000 bees to swarm his face, as he answered questions from his captivated audience.
“Will the bees come to sting us?” someone inquired.
“We hope not … we haven’t had that happen yet,” Shump answered. “However, when dealing with beekeepers, if a beekeeper starts running, I encourage you to run faster.”
Shump said the bees don’t hurt his face.
“They’re all grabbing on, their tarsal claws are into my skin … it’s like really tiny acupuncture.”
Children later fed the bees off Shump’s face with sugar water. Some held multiple bees in their hands, fearlessly. Shump’s goal is to educate kids about bees so they become more than just afraid.
“Hopefully … they’ll become beekeepers when they get older.”
Honey bees are more than just entertainment — they are vital parts of our ecosystem, pollinating $15 billion worth of crops each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
The Honey Festival will continue through Sunday, Sept. 11, at Bartram’s Garden.
Saturdays just got more interesting.